*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

‘Fifth Gospel’ in the muddle

by
02 April 2012

Nicholas Holtam readsstories of faith from anorth-London church

Evangelist: portrait by Meg Wroe for “The Gospel according to Ivy”.

Evangelist: portrait by Meg Wroe for “The Gospel according to Ivy”.

The Gospel According to Everyone
Martin Wroe, author
Meg Wroe, portraits

lulu.com £6
(978-1-44780973-9)

A COUPLE of years ago, someone on Iona said: “The Church is the Fifth Gospel.” Here are 12 stories of people from St Luke’s, West Holloway — the Gospel of that church in north London. These are lives of people who try to follow Jesus. Their stories are not turned to make points of doctrine or morality. They are complex, muddled, and “real”. There is a lovely portrait at the start of each person’s story.

One theme is that this church knows how to be a community. Ivy has lived in the area all her life. Family events have been marked in church. Five years ago, she started coming regularly. “It’s the friendliness we like.”

Ivy states another of this small book’s themes: “as you get older you begin to accept dying more.”

Sissy, who created wallpaper for Prince Charles’s bedroom when he was a baby, says:

I say my payers every day, for the family, for peace in the world, for the end to war. I’m not afraid of dying and I think it’s because of my faith. It’s no good being afraid.

There is quite a bit about prayer. John was a married Salvation Army Officer, who lost his family, job, and home when it was discovered that he was gay. His family won’t talk to him now. Thank God he’s got a partner.

I try and pray for them all. I’m probably at the top of my son’s prayer list and he’s at the top of mine so the Lord will sort it out one day.

Judi, who gave up her son for adoption in November 1976, says:

I suppose I have lived a messy life but I think the cross of Jesus is quite messy and it is the church which mistakenly tries to sanitise it.

Of course, I liked Ezekiel, who worked for Salisbury Cathedral while still homeless, but they are all good stories of people “on the way”. If they inspire your church to write a Fifth Gospel, I reckon the people of St Luke’s will be satisfied. They have done more than that for me.

This Gospel asks whether Jesus would have been that fussed about the muddles of our lives where rela­tionships are real and love is genuine.

The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam is the Bishop of Salisbury.

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)

*Until the end of June: we’re doubling the number of free articles to eight, to celebrate the publication of our Platinum Jubilee double issue.